Love thy team
If there was an industry award for resilience, then fundraisers would be at the top of that shortlist. Whether we stand in the rain with a bucket, pitch to an audience of FTSE100 employees, write appeals or cheer on marathon runners – each year can feel tougher than the last. Yet, this doesn’t stop us leaping out of bed, taking a sip of optimism and committing to being the best fundraisers we can be.
I believe entering the National Fundraising Awards is just one way we can demonstrate that resilience; showcasing the sheer range of creativity, talent and hard work that takes place in the sector 365 days a year. And I write this as someone who has entered the awards a fair few times, but never actually won.
Putting yourself up to be ‘judged’ by others, so publicly, seems counter-intuitive to the private role we often play in connecting donor to cause. Hiding our lights under bushels seems to be the modest thing to do. However, the act of nominating your colleagues demonstrates that you believe they are the best and are worthy of the recognition. And not just recognition of the idea or campaign execution, but the fact that they've engaged with supporters in a way that was right for them.
This photo of my team at Haven House Children's Hospice when we DIDN'T win the fundraising team of the year award sums up that it's the nomination that counts, and it makes me smile every time I see it.
It is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate team effort. Entering your team or fundraising campaign says to those individuals (and reverberates around your organisation) that you are proud of their accomplishments and you appreciate them. You’re proud of how they’ve connected to new audiences, proud of how they’ve developed meaningful relationships or proud that they took the risk and tried something new.
In addition to celebrating best practice, it’s also an opportunity to say thank you to the businesses, groups and volunteers that were also part of the ‘team’. Making the shortlist is never a solo effort and a nomination celebrates the wider team that all played their part in raising funds and awareness for your cause.
And if entering still feels uncomfortable then consider it an opportunity to raise the profile of your charity with an audience that is committed to continuous improvement and professional development.
Just as I am proud of the teams and projects I’ve nominated in previous years, I am proud to be a judge of the awards; and I am really looking forward to seeing the best of the sector in the applications. While all fundraisers want to win, on this occasion you and your team can get a huge buzz from taking part.
Jenni Anderson is a Judge for the National Fundraising Awards, and Director of Fundraising at The Duke of Edinburgh's Award.